April 16, 2018
Wondai businessman Owen Blamires and two young passengers had a lucky escape on Saturday when a fuel issue led to their Cessna 172 making a forced landing in Wondai.
The light aircraft landed on a grassed area near Cranitch Street in the Wondai Industrial Estate, only a few hundred metres from where the Wondai Sprints were being held.
Owen told southburnett.com.au the incident occurred as he was returning to Wondai airstrip after a short sightseeing flight over Bjelke-Petersen Dam.
He said he was cruising over the Cherbourg forestry when his left side fuel tank hit empty.
“I switched to the right tank expecting the engine to refresh …”
Unfortunately for Owen and his passengers, bees had damaged the fuel line, starving the motor.
“There was still fuel in the tank but suddenly I had to begin to plan to find a safe place to land,” he said.
“I looked at the Wondai Showgrounds and the golf course and then I saw an area clear of people … and there were emergency services nearby!
“I thought that if anything went pear-shaped it would be good to have them around.”
Owen said the landing went smoothly, and after repairs the take-off went equally well.
“We’re all still walking, that’s the main thing,” he said.
The plane also suffered no damage in the incident.
Owen was full of praise for the local police who assisted him on the ground.
“The police were extremely helpful. I can’t speak highly enough of them,” he said.
The police marked out the 200-300m strip that Owen required for a safe takeoff.
Owen is still shaking his head about how it all happened.
“I’d been flying all morning and this was the last trip!” he said.
The Cessna 172 takes off from its makeshift airstrip on Saturday